Katherine Blackley

Essential Pittsburgh Fellow

Katie is from Ashland, Ohio and is on schedule to graduate from Duquesne University in May 2014 with a B.A. in Media Management and Production as well as English Literature.

She has served as a WESA fellow with 90.5's daily news program Essential Pittsburgh since May 2013 and hopes this will lead toward her career goal of being a producer in public radio or public television.

Fun fact:  "I do Sesame Street character impressions...Ernie is my best."

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:10 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Accessing 125 Years of Contagious Disease Research

Project Tycho collects and digitalizes information about contagious disease and releases it in an accessible format.
Credit Houston Museum of Natural Science / flickr.com

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have collected and digitized all weekly surveillance reports for reportable diseases in the United States going back more than 125 years.

The design, called Project Tycho, is led by researchers Drs. Donald Burke and Willem van Panhuis. They say this access to this data can be vital to preventing and treating contagious diseases.

Dr. Burke, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health says the data has always been available, but not so easy to access.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:00 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre Brings You Holmes for the Holidays

David Whalen and Justin R.G. Holcomb star in Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre's production of Sherlock Holmes & The Crucifer of Blood
Credit Suellen Fitzsimmons / PICT

In a season where theater-goers can see reworked versions of holiday tales like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre is offering a colorful alternative.

The Crucifer of Blood is an adaptation by Paul Giovanni of a Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle. The play features Holmes and his sidekick, Watson as they wrestle with supernatural demons in 19th century London.

Pittsburgh-based actor David Whalen plays the heroic Holmes for a second time on the Pittsburgh stage following his stint in 2011’s Mask of Moriarty, where he helped the Irish and Classical Theatre reach their best box office results in 17 years.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:06 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Rules of the Road & Off-Road for ATVs & Dirt Bikes in Pittsburgh

Many are seeking tighter laws to prevent ATV and off-roading in resident areas around the city.
Credit Robby Green / flickr

Off-road riding on ATVs, and dirt bikes can be a great form of recreation for people of all ages.

But with recent reports of these vehicles being driven through Pittsburgh neighborhoods illegally, some residents are looking for tighter restrictions.

Tom Mershimer is an ATV and off-road motorcycle instructor Mines and Meadows  ATV/RV Resort who has been riding and racing off-road vehicles for most of his life. He's an enthusiastic rider, but he's seen some of the problems when it comes to the rules of the road, and off-road.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:32 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Museums in Washington D.C. Have More to See This Fall

From free museums to unique restaurants, travel contributor Elaine Labalme talks about why now is one of the best times to visit Washington D.C.
Credit Noclip / wikipedia

With summer heat a distant memory, plenty of free museums and not a lot of travel time required – it’s a great time to visit our nation’s capital.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares some of her favorite spots in Washington D.C. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:06 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Millennials Driving the Business of Tattoos

Over one-third of all Millennials have at least one tattoo.
Credit Kenzie Saunders / Flickr

Tattoos were once the domain of sailors and bad guys in movies and television. Over the past two decades the art of inking has increased.

Tattoo parlors are everywhere and they’ve achieved the ultimate pop culture status of reality shows devoted to the craft.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris says Millennials are driving the trend.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:35 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Millennials Return Home: The Business of the Boomerang

Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

As Thomas Wolfe famously stated, “You can’t go home again.” Yet millennials in Pittsburgh aren’t taking heed.

Along with Cleveland and Albuquerque, Pittsburgh was recently listed in an article by The Atlantic as a town luring back its townies.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris comments on this trend and how it can affect the city’s demographics and economy.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:54 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Nothin' But Blue Skies: Revitalization in the Post-Industrial Heartland

Smokestacks in Homestead, PA serve as a reminder of the city's industrial past.
Credit Devon Christopher Adams / flickr

In his recent book, Nothin' But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland, Ed McClelland chronicles the rise, fall, and hopeful revitalization of some of America’s boomtowns.

He says blue skies is referenced in the title of his novel as a twofold approach to the past and future of these post-industrial cities.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:33 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Open Source Design Offers Greater Control Over Personal Gadgets

Credit Mariano Real Pérez / flickr

As the devices we use on a regular basis become more advanced and intuitive to use, they’ve also become easier to personalize. As a result, consumers wield more power over their own technology.

Matthew Casebeer Computer Scientist for MAYA Design, a consulting group that’s focused on simplifying devices and data. He finds that open source  design benefits all who share information through their devices, not just computer scientists that work on fixing problems for large groups of users.

He's interested in creating user-friendly authoring tools that allow consumers to write their own code.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:02 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

The Dark Side of Social Media: Criminal Activity Displayed Online

Credit Mehfuz Hossain / flickr

People share so much of their lives on social media, from vacation photos to music and book choices. This over-sharing of information has extended to the bold and casual admittance of criminal activity.

David Harris, Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law University of Pittsburgh School of Law says the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio is an example of how ever-present social media can play an important role in criminal cases.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:20 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

State Schools Struggle for Funding

Edinboro University is one of four PA-owned universities that has made budget cuts in the last year.
Credit Galladia / flickr

Pennsylvania's state-owned universities are in an uncomfortable situation. Declining student enrollment numbers have left universities like Edinboro, Clarion, East Stroudsburg and Mansfield with less tuition revenue and the unfortunate task of cutting programs and faculty.

In the increasingly competitive higher education market, these state schools are struggling to retain students.

To address this competition, schools add more amenities that budgets may not allow.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:02 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Arsenals & Agreements: Pittsburgh's Role in WWI & Reshaping Europe

The Pittsburgh Agreement historic marker sits at the corner of Penn Avenue and Seventh Street in the Pittsburgh Cultural District
Credit Joseph / flickr

Seeds of Independent Czechoslovakia Began in Pittsburgh

Behind the doors of the Czechoslovakian Nationality Room in the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning is a copy of the 1918 Pittsburgh Agreement.

The little-known document outlines the desires of Czech and Slovak community members to form an independent Czechoslovakian nation. E. Maxine Bruhns, director of the University of Pittsburgh Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs, celebrates the city as the founding region for Czech independence.

The arrival of the Agreement’s primary author, Thomas Masaryk, spurred what Bruhns says was the “largest political rally of its time.” He came to Pittsburgh to seek support for the new nation.

Following his successful visit, the document was sent to President Woodrow Wilson, who began to recognize an independent Czechoslovakia.

Pittsburgh in World War I: Arsenal of the Allies

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:36 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

When "Silly Remarks" Become Landmarks: The Gettysburg Address 150 Years Later

An 1863 daguerreotype of Lincoln, at the time of the Gettysburg Address. He was 54 years old.
Credit Alexander Gardner / Wikipedia

150 years ago President Abraham Lincoln stood in Gettysburg, PA, at the site of one of the most important battles of the American Civil War to consecrate a cemetery for those who died for the Union cause. Lincoln’s speech was brief but had a lasting historical impact.

In the new book titled, The Greatest Speech Ever: The Remarkable Story of Abraham Lincoln and His Gettysburg Address, Judge James L. Cotton, Jr. looks at the influence Lincoln's famous words.

“The Gettysburg Address has just as much meaning and relevance today as it did 150 years ago,” says Cotton.

But he says the address received little appreciation in Lincoln’s lifetime.

The Retraction Heard 'Round the World

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:36 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Trend Shows More Shelter Animals Find Homes

Credit Jerry Wong / flickr

Lost and stray animals are finding their way to better homes, according to a recent trend at animal shelters.

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, fewer pets are landing in animal shelters and the number of euthanized dogs and cats has decreased. What has emerged is a trend toward adopting these unwanted animals, instead of going to a pet shop or breeder.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:23 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Pittsburgh Ranks Eighth in Car-Less Commuting

Credit Dan Brubaker Horst / Flickr

From biking, to walking, to riding public transit, depending on your neighborhood, commuting to work in Pittsburgh can be easily accomplished without driving a car.

The Institute for Quality Communities at the University of Oklahoma (IQCUO) agrees and has ranked Pittsburgh 8th among big cities for car-less commuting. After sifting through census bureau data by the American Community Survey on primary means of transportation to work, Pittsburgh emerged as a biker-walker friendly city.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:08 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

TV Program Shows How to START UP a Company

Gary Bredow hosts the new PBS show START UP, featuring entrepreneurs from around the country.
Credit START UP USA

Many Americans dream of owning their own business, but too often statistics and a fearful economy stop their progress- not Gary Bredow.

He started his own production company after quitting his desk job and he now hosts the public television program, START UP, where he talks with American entrepreneurs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:10 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Preventing Homicides Through Early Intervention

Credit Matt Niemi / Flickr

Each year, the city of Pittsburgh sees more than 100 homicides.

A new study by the University of Pittsburgh suggests that 30% of last year’s homicides could have been prevented by early intervention.

Richard Garland, M.S.W., visiting instructor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and Steven Albert, Ph.D., chairman of the department, co-authored the study and say most of the criminal activity was a result of peer violence, not gang-related violence.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:54 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Newcomers Invited to City-Wide Dine Around

Vibrant Pittsburgh, Pop City Media and the World Affairs Council welcome all newcomers to the second annual Dine Around event.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

New to the ‘Burgh? Enjoy great food, socialize with other newcomers and form networks throughout Pittsburgh at one of the city-wide Dine Around events. Vibrant Pittsburgh, established to grow the diversity of the region, has been instrumental in organizing these dinners.

Vibrant Pittsburgh CEO Melanie Harrington and Community outreach and inclusion manager Adriana Dobrzycka use a three-pronged approach to bring in and keep diverse families, and say these dinners are an excellent step in helping these newcomers feel welcome.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:41 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

New Girl Talks Resort Visits for the Holidays

Xel Ha Lagoon in Riviera Maya
Credit Grand Velas Riviera Maya / flickr

Get out of the cold weather, curl up by your computer, and book your holiday destination tickets today!

That’s the advice from travel contributor Elaine Labalme. She suggests booking early for warm-weather travels and offers five hot spots for the upcoming season.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:41 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

A Community Forum on the Education Achievement Gap

On October 29 as part of our Life of Learning Initiative, 90.5 WESA will host a community forum featuring a panel of experts to address the problem of Pittsburgh’s educational achievement gap.

Kevin Gavin is the Executive Producer for Special News Projects and says much of the forum will be devoted to exploring contributing factors to the gap.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:40 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Temporary Art Installations Boost Economy

Rebecca Harris and her mother from St. Louis, Dr. Susan Uchitelle
Credit Rebecca Harris

Temporary art installations are all the rage—while they’re around. This past summer Pittsburgh has seen a host of exhibits including the “yarn-bombing” of the Andy Warhol Bridge and, of course, the Rubber Duck Project.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the economic impact of these visiting art projects.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:40 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Possible Petrochemical Plant in Beaver County

Credit Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Deliberations are underway in Beaver County as officials discuss opening a petrochemical plant in the region. After a visit to the gulf coast and other shale-rich regions in the south, Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier returns to Pittsburgh to disclose his findings about ethane, crude oil and natural gas. In Beaver County, the debate hovers between job creation and environmental concerns.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:37 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Remaking Cities & the Future of Post-Industrial Pittsburgh

Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh helped to diversify Pittsburgh's economy
Credit Alberto D'Ottavi / flickr

Density, diversity, and networking. Author and Brookings Institute Vice President Bruce Katz says thoughtful utilization of these terms have helped Pittsburgh thrive after the shock of an economic recession. He credits the city’s comeback to civic-minded citizens and policy makers who understood the power of a diverse economy, a dense business district and an effective team of networking leaders. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:36 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Coast-to-Coast Wineries From the New Girl

Vineyards offer a variety of ways to enjoy their wines be it through private tastings, spectacular views or a tour through the wine-making process
Credit Udo Schröter / flickr

Autumnal colors and chilly weather prompt the perfect palate for wine tastings around the region. Travel contributor Elaine Lablame suggests some of her favorite wineries from the Lehigh to Napa Valleys. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:21 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Hauntrepreneurs Thrive in Halloween Season

Rebecca Harris and the crew of Essential Pittsburgh in Studio A
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Fear and fright have become big business.  Young “hauntreprenuers” thrive during the Halloween season by enticing thrill-seekers to commercial Haunted Houses and families to Halloween attractions

Business contributor Rebecca Harris says the Halloween attraction industry appeals to 18-34 year olds looking for a fright and the big corporation looking to grab the young market.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:55 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

State Parks Remain Open & Ready for Visitors

Ohiopyle State Park on an autumn day
Credit Brook Ward / flickr

While Washington remains at a standstill and many national parks have closed their gates, travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests an alternative trip to the many American state parks. She says autumn is the perfect season to see some beautiful nature only a short drive away!

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:23 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Punk Rock Humanitarian Billy Bragg Returns to Pittsburgh

Credit Kris Krug / Wikipedia

Punk rocker and humanitarian protest lyricist Billy Bragg returns to Pittsburgh after sixteen years.

His influences derive from 1960’s Motown music and the civil rights movement to the arrival of punk rock in Britain.

Following the 1984 United Kingdom miner strike, Bragg began writing and performing protest songs expressing the discord in ideologies between working citizens and upper class public officials. He returned to Pittsburgh to play at Mr. Smalls theater on October 1.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Rediscovering Pittsburgh's Ragtime Roots

Pittsburgh's rich jazz history documented here on Centre Avenue.
Credit Boring Pittsburgh / flickr

Recently rediscovered compositions of early 20th century ragtime tunes will be presented by the Allegheny City Ragtime Orchestra as tribute to the rich musical history of Pittsburgh.

Noted pianist and conductor Tom Roberts says it took some digging to piece together Pittsburgh’s jazz history between Stephen Foster and bebop, but results reveal a wealth of contributions by local musicians.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:09 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Fall Festivals Lineup Includes Fire Truck Pull & Apple Pancakes

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares five of her favorite upcoming fall festivals.
Credit Sophia Greco / flickr

As autumn arrives and trees transform their tint, fall festivals appear throughout the region. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares some of her favorites of the season.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:09 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

The Business of Pharmacies Expand & Evolve

Pharmacies now offer more than prescriptions. They often have small medical centers and administer immunizations and flu shots.
Credit Assia R / flickr

No longer are pharmacies the corner soda shop drug stores of the past.

Modern pharmacies and drug store chains have expanded their role from prescription outlets to alternative venues for medical treatment.

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris, many drug stores are going above and beyond their traditional roles by offering immunizations and flu shots for all ages throughout the year. She says because they deal with prescriptions daily, pharmacists often know more about the latest medical trends than doctors and can be a valuable partner for consumer health.

Essential Pittsburgh
6:40 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Bricolage Encourages Immersive Theater

Credit American Theater Magazine / Bricolage Theater

Engaging adventurous theater and artistic urban immersion. These are some of the key characteristics of the Bricolage Theater that landed them a cover feature in American Theater Magazine.

Bricolage co-founder and artistic director Jeffrey Carpenter is encouraged by the success of the theater and looks to expand its programs to more demographics.

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